Sue Michaud’s class at Bath’s Dike Newell School stand with Wendy Ulmer holding their new copies of “Zero, Zilch, Nada.” Contributed photo

Recently, local author and Dike Newell School volunteer Wendy Ulmer gifted Sue Michaud’s second grade class with copies of her children’s book “Zero, Zilch, Nada: Counting to None,” which follows the story of a young bunny named Harry who needs the reader’s help to count 100 balloons. Students joined Ulmer on the lawn beside the Bath school’s lawn to read the book and help Harry solve his math problem.

Ulmer’s relationship with DNS began before she was an author, back when she taught English and music for the district, mostly at Morse High School. After retiring, she realized that she “missed the kids terribly,” and began volunteering at Dike Newell. 2020 marks her 13th year as a volunteer.

Zero, Zilch, Nada is a great book,” said Michaud in a news release. “You can do lots of math activities with it. The students love the story; there are parts in the story that students just jump in and read it with the reader, so it’s sort of like a song.”

Ulmer and Michaud also devised a pen pal program this year: students write a postcard to Ulmer about a certain topic and she responds. In the spirit of the holidays, their most recent topic was “What are you thankful for?” In the spring, the students will start exchanging short letters with Ulmer as they build their writing skills.

The students also help Ulmer with her writing – for the past four years she has been reading drafts of new stories to the class.

“It’s been awesome to hear their feedback,” she said. “Along the way, I tell them about the whole publishing process.”

Students have watched Ulmer’s work progress from rough stories written on paper into published novels. Sometimes she asks students for their opinion on illustrations and has shared other writing experiences with them as well.

Michaud said she loves having Ulmer come into the class.

“She has brought so many great ideas and I have learned so much from her,” she said.

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